“Still Here: The Cosmology of Black Resistance,” a major art installation at Myriad Botanical Gardens, will be available to the viewing public both in person and virtually beginning this month.
The work is an interdisciplinary installation and performances co-curated by local artists Marie Casimir (dance) and Ebony Iman Dallas (visual arts).
“The Myriad Gardens asked me to do an art installation in their gallery space several months ago,” Dallas said, “and because there wasn’t time to create enough pieces, I asked if I could include other artists.”
Dallas approached long-time friend Marie Casimir – dancer, writer, lecturer and artist – about collaboration, and the two enlisted other visual and performance artists.
“This has definitely been a beautiful collaboration,” Dallas said. “The show is rich with amazing talent from across the (African) diaspora and artistic disciplines. It wouldn’t be the show it is without all of us coming together with a desire to share.”
What the artists are sharing is expressed in the name of the show: Black narratives past, present and future. Cosmology is best understood as a culture’s collection of stories about how the universe works and the relationships of humans to each other, the world and the gods or spirits.
“These are the stories of who we are as Black people,” Casimir said,” “about what it means to still be here, and what connects us to the cosmos or the Divine. We are all connected to each other – past, present, future – and to the entire story of our creation.”
The artists do come from various iterations of the African diaspora – the mass dispersion of African peoples during and after the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Dallas’s roots are Somali; Casimir’s Haitian. Other artists represent Antigua, Ghana and the U.S. Telling the stories from different perspectives “helps us understand our complete story and our place in the cosmos,” Casimir explained.
Seven visual artists will have work displayed in the gallery space beginning Jan. 13, including Dallas, Tulsa artist Florine Démosthène, and Washington, D.C., artist Musah Swallah. Casimir and J’Aime Griffith have choreographed and are currently filming a dance piece “We Remember, We Restore,” that will premiere Feb. 19. The official opening of the installation is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Jan. 22 and runs through Mar. 2, in the gallery space. Guests will sign up to tour the space in groups of six. Another dance piece by OKC artist Changing FrEQuencies will be accompanied by an artist talk at the opening.
Public reading of poetry and stories, “Storytelling in the Gardens,” is scheduled for Feb. 13 on a yet-to-be-determined outdoor stage in the gardens. A total of 31 pieces will be on display in the gallery, and the“We Remember, We Restore” will be presented after its debut. All events are free and open to the public. Registration is available on Eventbrite and on the event Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1025908907908981